If you need to buy material handling machines to move pallets or items around a warehouse, then you might not be sure whether to buy forklifts or pallet jacks. Both of these machines have forks at the front to pick up and carry items; however, they have different advantages.

In many cases, forklifts are a better warehousing option. Why? 

1. Forklifts Carry More

While pallet jacks are designed to carry pallets, these machines are smaller than regular forklifts. They don't have the same weight-load capacities.

So, you can't carry too many pallets on a jack. You might need to make more trips to load or unload pallets in your warehouse. You also can't use a jack to move heavier items that exceed its weight capacity. This affects your material handling efficiency and capabilities.

Forklifts have larger weight limits. They can carry more pallets at once. They can also carry heavier items. Your handling times will decrease and become more efficient.

2. Forklifts Have a Higher Reach

Pallet jacks don't have much of a height reach. Typically, you load these trolleys at ground level. The jacks might move up a little but they don't move significantly.

You'll find it hard to use a jack on high warehouse racking. It might only be able to load or unload on your lowest rack shelf. You'll have to find a different way to get pallets on to and off higher levels.

Forklifts have a higher reach. You can buy models with forks that go high enough to access all your rack's shelves. Your operators will be able to work faster and more efficiently at all levels.

3. Forklifts Are More Versatile

Pallet jacks do one job. They carry pallets. While you might be able to use them to move other square or rectangular items, you have shape limitations here. For example, you can't easily or safely use a jack to move drums or items with irregular shapes.

Forklifts are more versatile. You can add attachments to them so that they can do other jobs.

For example, you can add a drum handling arm so that a forklift can move drums safely and securely. You can add platform attachments so that a forklift can lift a person to work at height. You can even add a sweeper attachment so that you can use a forklift to clean your warehouse floor.

To see some examples of forklifts and to get advice on which models to buy, talk to a forklift dealer.